I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life; I’ve attempted to make careers out of my passions, and so far I’ve done okay.
As parents, we want to know our children will be alright. We want to know that they will make good choices and see success—however it’s defined—as they grow up and out into the world.
I want my son to know that it’s okay to try new things—to jump in head first, all-in, go-for-broke—and pursue different things even when everyone around you says it doesn’t make sense. I want my son to know that it’s good to follow your dreams at every stage of life, and you don’t have to listen to the naysayers on the sidelines of your life.
I grew up in the generation that got a job, worked for decades and then retired. Your career path—and the things you did to set yourself on that path—was a critical choice for a young person, and the decision was a benchmark of adulthood.
But I’ve seen far too many people following a path that no longer inspires them (“Only 14 more years until I can retire…”), or have found themselves locked in vanishing industries with no realistic options for moving on. To often the notion that our careers define us—especially dads—handcuffs our sense of adventure, fulfillment and worth.
I reject the notion that a person MUST have a “career path”—the idea that by the time you leave high school, your life has a plan and a path that is mostly predetermined, and you will continue along such a path. I’m not saying there aren’t people who find their calling and anchor in for a lifetime. Power to them. It’s just that the notion of it is so pervasive, that we assume it’s natural; it’s expected.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have one passion for my work. Or, rather, I was lucky enough to have many passions and the opportunity to pursue them professionally. I am fortunate that the people in my life trust me and allow me to pursue opportunities.
I don’t want my son to see a “career path”. Rather, I want him to see commitment, excellence and growth throughout a lifetime as normal. I want him to see what it’s like to create and deliver value to others on his terms. I want him to respect his skills and passions, and find ways to use them throughout his life.
Regardless of what you are doing, do it well. Learn to do it better. Be proud of the value that the job brings and don’t diminish the importance of doing the job right. Take the time to learn something different, and how you can work it into your activities. Take the time to try something new, and see how it fits. Take the time to explore new passions and see where the adventure leads.
Added to my catalogue of “Best Advice Ever”, a colleague recently shared this: “Whenever you are given an opportunity, just say Yes.” You can always step off the train, but it’s almost impossible to catch up once it leaves the station. Open your eyes to new ideas and new possibilities, and possibly, it will be the one moment that makes all the difference.
Never be afraid to say, “That was good. What’s next?”